Paul Reubens (né Rubenfeld; born August 27, 1952) is an American actor, writer, film producer, game show host, and comedian, best known for his character Pee-wee Herman. Reubens joined the Los Angeles troupe The Groundlings in the 1970s and started his career as an improvisational comedian and stage actor. In 1982, Reubens put up a show about a character he had been developing for years. The show was called The Pee-wee Herman Show and it ran for five sold-out months with HBO producing a successful special about it. Pee-wee became an instant cult figure and for the next decade, Reubens would be completely committed to his character, doing all of his public appearances and interviews as Pee-wee. In 1985 Pee-wee's Big Adventure, directed by the then-unknown Tim Burton, was a financial and critical success, and soon developed into a cult film. Big Top Pee-wee, 1988's sequel, was less successful than its predecessor. Between 1986 and 1990, Reubens starred as Pee-wee in the CBS Saturday-morning children's program Pee-wee's Playhouse.
Thereafter, Reubens decided to take a sabbatical from Pee-wee. In July 1991, Reubens was arrested for indecent exposure in an adult theater in Sarasota, Florida. The arrest set off a chain reaction of national media attention that changed the general public's view of Reubens and Pee-wee. The arrest postponed Reubens' involvement in major projects until 1999 when he appeared in several big-budget projects including Mystery Men and Blow and started giving interviews as himself rather than as Pee-wee.
Since 2006, Reubens has been making cameos and guest appearances in numerous projects, such as Reno 911!, 30 Rock, Dirt, Pushing Daisies, and The Blacklist. Since the 1990s, he has worked on two possible Pee-wee films: one dark and adult, dubbed The Pee-wee Herman Story, and one a family-friendly epic adventure called Pee-wee's Playhouse: The Movie. In 2010, he starred on Broadway in The Pee-wee Herman Show.
In 2016, Reubens helped write and star in the Netflix original film Pee-wee's Big Holiday, reprising his role as Pee-wee Herman.